Mounting pressure from the farmers to procure paddy not conforming to the fair average quality (FAQ) norms has put the State Government in a fix.
The State has been waiting for nearly two weeks for getting relaxed specifications on the quality of paddy from the Ministry of Agriculture Food Processing to extend its benefit to the farmers affected by untimely rains and floods.
The paddy, which was saved from cyclone-induced rains which lashed the State in the second week of October and consequent floods, is not in conformity with the FAQ norms prescribed by the Centre due to moisture content and discolouring of grains.
Rice not conforming to the FAQ norms will not be accepted by the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for delivery under the public distribution system (PDS). The procured rice has to be consumed within the State without any subsidy support from the Centre, a senior officer of the Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare department said. Political parties and farmers’ organisations are putting pressure on the Government to procure all types of paddy from the farmers at the minimum support price (MSP) announced by the Centre for the current kharif season.
The Centre has fixed ` 1,310 per quintal for common variety of paddy and ` 1,345 per quintal for Grade-A variety as MSP.
In the absence of approved relaxed FAQ norms from the Centre, farmers are demanding MSP for their paddy and this has created unpleasant situation in the mandis. Refusal to accept under quality paddy by the Government agencies has forced the farmers to sell their produce to private traders, a field-level officer of the Cooperative Department said.
Meanwhile, the Central team, which visited a few affected districts in Western Odisha to assess crop damage, has submitted a report to the Food Ministry.
“We are waiting for the Centre’s response to our request for relaxation of FAQ norms,” the officer said, adding that there will be value cut on MSP under relaxed specification.
The State Government has procured 2.11 lakh tonnes of paddy till date as against more than three lakh tonnes during the corresponding period last year.